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Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States
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Book description

The break-up of the USSR was unexpected and unexpectedly peaceful. Though a third of the new states fell prey to violent civil conflict, anarchy on the post-Soviet periphery, when it occurred, was quickly cauterized. This book argues that this outcome had nothing to do with security guarantees by Russia or the United Nations and everything to do with local innovation by ruthless warlords, who competed and colluded in a high-risk coalition formation game. Drawing on a structured comparison of Georgian and Tajik militia members, the book combines rich comparative data with formal modeling, treating the post-Soviet space as an extraordinary laboratory to observe the limits of great powers' efforts to shape domestic institutions in weak states.


'Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States offers both a rethinking of the origins of the contemporary state in Eurasia and a reexamination of the relationships among secession, violence, terrorism, and political institutions. This is state-of-the-art political science - a book about real people grappling with matters of life and death, whose experiences we strain to understand using both abstract models and savvy ethnography. Jesse Driscoll helps us see how post-Soviet politics sometimes emerged as the continuation of war by other means.'

Charles King - Georgetown University, Washington DC

'Combining rigorous deductive logic with stunning fieldwork, Jesse Driscoll produces analytic narratives from post-communist cases that serve to challenge conventional thinking about anarchy, state building, and other fundamental concepts of political science.'

Roger Petersen - Massachusetts Institute of Technology

'Taking a deep look at the fighting that took place in Georgia and Tajikistan in the early 1990s after the Soviet Union disbanded, Driscoll questions many of the core assumptions scholars make in the literature on international peacekeeping. He knows this academic field well and is fluent in its key arguments, but he also spent two years in the places where these wars occurred and among those who fought them. This kind of firsthand research gives his analysis real heft. In both cases, it was not the eventual triumph of state authority, the clear defeat of one side, the disarming of the warring parties, or the arbitration of international mediators that allowed the conflict to end, as many theorists would assume. Rather, he argues, it was the deals that opposing warlords worked out among themselves, based on the bounty they could share, in a system that tolerated or even exploited their avarice - not least because they frequently came to constitute the state.'

Robert Legvold Source: Foreign Affairs

‘His book makes a number of important insights that contribute to our body knowledge on civil war … the book presents an interesting argument.’

Christopher A. Stevens Source: The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review

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